Republicans court Arab vote
Regional, Politics, 10/27/2000
Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush early this month met with Arab Americans in Dearborn, Michigan. The event followed a policy address given by Bush campaign advisor Condaleeza Rice to an Arab American audience in Michigan.
This meeting with Bushwhich lasted one hour and covered a wide range of issues important to Arab Americans including the Middle East peace process and recent outbreak of violence, the U.S. embassy in Israel, economic sanctions against Iraq and the use of secret evidence in deportation proceedings.
More than 35 Arab American leaders from Michigan attended making this the largest ethnic roundtable that Governor and Mrs. Bush have held during the campaign. Michigan Governor John Engler hosted the meeting. Participants were very pleased with the event and noted that Bush engaged those in attendance on all of the issues.
The briefing by Condaleeza Rice marked the Bush campaign advisoršs first exclusive address on U.S.-Middle East policy. During that briefing, she addressed the Middle East peace process, the U.S. Embassy in Israel, and sanctions on Iraq.
Those in attendance noted that while community leaders passionately voiced concerns about Iraq and other issues important to Arab Americans, Rice was straightforward and open during the exchange. AAI Chairman George R. Salem, who participated in the meeting in his role as National Chair of Arab Americans for Bush/Cheney, noted "The fact that the foreign policy advisor to the Bush campaign chose to give her first exclusive Mideast policy address to an Arab American audience says a great deal about how the Arab American community is valued by the Bush campaign. The fact that the campaign followed that event with an exclusive meeting with the candidate himself says even more."
The "meeting marks the first time that a presidential candidate came to the heartland of the Arab American community to meet with leaders of our community. We were very pleased by the Governoršs demonstration of understanding for our issues and the compassion he displayed for those who are suffering in the Middle East," Salem added. Michiganšs Arab American community numbers more than 350,000 and because of its high voter turnout in critical elections can represent as much as four percent of the statewide vote. More than 70 percent of Arab Americans in the Detroit metropolitan area are registered to vote and 60 percent of that community voted in the last presidential election.
"These events signal the growing political power of the Arab American community. We are organized. We vote in large numbers. I think the attention we are receiving from the presidential campaigns this year makes that very clear," said Salem. AAI is a national organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent, a statement said.
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